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100th Anniversary

posted Feb 6, 2010, 12:47 PM by Unknown user

As seen in the Powdersville Post.

On Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, the Boy Scouts of America will be 100 years old!

The Boy Scout movement was founded in 1907 by British General Lord Robert Baden-Powell. And on February 8, 1910, a Chicago businessman, William D. Boyce, helped start the American Boy Scout movement based on the “Good Turn of an Unknown Scout.”

I would like to present a re-print of passage from my old Boy Scout Handbook titled The Story of a Good Turn (BSA Handbook, Ninth Edition, February 1979), and has been repeated in subsequent editions of the Boy Scout Handbook.


The Story of a Good Turn

One day in the fall of 1909, the great city of London was in the grip of a dense fog. An American businessman, William D. Boyce, stopped under a street lamp to locate himself. Out of the gloom a boy approached him and asked if he could be of help.

“You certainly can,” said Boyce. He told the boy that he wanted to find a certain business office in the center of the city.

“I’ll take you there,” said the boy.

When they got to the destination, Mr. Boyce reached into his pocket for a tip. But the boy stopped him.

“No thank you, sir. I am a Scout. I won’t take anything for helping.”

“A Scout? And what might that be?” asked Boyce.

The boy told the American about himself and his brother Scouts. Boyce became very interested. After finishing his errand, he had the boy take him to the British Scouting office. There the boy disappeared.

At the office, Boyce met Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the famous British general who had founded the Scouting movement in Great Britain. Boyce was so impressed with what he learned that he decided to bring Scouting home with him.

And so, on February 8, 1910, in Washington, D.C., Boyce and a group of outstanding men founded the Boy Scouts of America. Ever since then, this day has been known as the birthday of Scouting in the United States.

What happened to the boy? No one knows. He was never heard of again, but he will never be forgotten. In the British Scout Training Center at Gilwell Park, England, a statue of a buffalo was put up in honor of this “Unknown Scout”. His Good Turn helped bring the Scouting movement to our country. One Good Turn to one man became a Good Turn to millions of American boys. Such is the power of a Good Turn. You never can tell….


While this story is true in its essence, the details vary among true Scouting historians. But one thing is not debated, the movement of the Boy Scouts of America was significantly influenced by Mr. Boyce’s encounter with that unknown Scout.

“Do a Good Turn Daily is more than simple good manners. It is a special act of kindness,” says the current Boy Scout Handbook. But it truly is more than that. A Good Turn can become a life changing habit. I am reminded of the 2000 Movie, Pay it Forward, where 12-year-old Trevor McKinney believed in the goodness of human nature.

Like many other kids, he was determined to change the world for the better. In countless Boy Scout Troops across the world, the practice of Do a Good Turn Daily is being taught and encouraged.

But you don’t have to be a Boy Scout to perform a Good Turn daily.

One point that we all can internalize is that when the hand of a Good Turn is extended toward you, take it, cherish it, and pay it forward. You may never know the life you may be changing with your simple act of kindness! Heed the Boy Scout slogan, Do a Good Turn daily.

Bill Edge is the Scoutmaster for Powdersville Troop 210.